Musings of a Marfan Mom

Preparing for a Child’s Hospital Visit

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So, to make a long story short, the Menininho is in the hospital with a mild skin infection. We spent part of Saturday night in the ER and were sent home with antibiotics and to come back if the infection spread past the lines the doctor drew to mark the current size of the infection. By early evening Sunday we saw that it had spread about an inch and got to the ER around 8:30. By 3 am Menininho and I were headed in the ambulance (just b/c he had an IV in, not b/c he was in danger) to the hospital where we’d be admitted. He’s been a real trooper and we are very much looking forward to going home tomorrow morning. Don’t get me wrong: the private room here is plush. But, I’m sure Menininho would rather spend his day crawling around the living room than the crib cage.
Here are some things I’ve learned from the experience.

1) If time permits, pack a bag. At best, you’re going to be in the ER for a few hours and even a nice pediatric ER like the one we went to isn’t necessarily equipped for younger kids. We needed to keep Menininho occupied and while the first night we had access to a big computer with movies, the 2nd night we did not. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to give my kid the toys from the waiting room to play with because who knows what germs might be on them? I was very glad that I’d packed a few of his favorite books and a snack. At worst, you’re going to be admitted to the hospital for an undetermined amount of time. I packed Menininho’s blanket, the medications that Mark and I would need, a book for each of us, extra diapers and wipes, and showered before we left for the ER. Everything fit in the diaper bag and we were good to go until today, when Mark could stop by the house to get a change of clothes.
2) Go with your gut. No one knows your child like you do. The resident last night didn’t want to admit us at first because Menininho didn’t react when he pushed on Menininho’s infection site. I was firm in my knowledge that something was wrong and seeing as this is a kid who knocks his head and keeps on going, I knew his lack of a response meant little. Luckily, I didn’t need to convince the attending doctor, but I was prepared to.
3) Ask lots of questions and write down the answers. You cannot count on the doctors and nursing staff to keep track of everything. For instance, I asked the nurse this afternoon when Menininho’s next dose of medication was, and she told me every 8 hours. I remembered that it was every 6 hours and was adamant, so she went to check his chart and found I was right. There are 2 antibiotics commonly given, one every 6 hours and one every 8, so had I not spoken up he could have received the wrong medication at the wrong time.
4) There is a fine line between advocating for your child and being obnoxious and demanding, but try to figure it out. My mother, who has much more experience with children in the hospital than I do, summed it up nicely: “You need to be demanding while constantly apologizing for being demanding.” You’ll get farther being nice to the nurses (because, let’s be honest, they’re doing the bulk of the work and getting the least amount of appreciation) than being nasty, but at the end of the day it’s not about getting everyone to like you, it’s about taking care of your child. The doctors forgot about us on rounds today. I asked every couple of hours after I knew rounds had ended for a doctor to stop by and fill me in, but I was always brushed off. An hour before shift change I was much more adamant that a doctor needed to come. The doctor was definitely upset with me, but she hadn’t followed protocol. I probably could have been a little sweeter in my gratitude towards her though. Live and learn.
5) Along those lines, figure out what you can do yourself and then do it. Upon arrival, the nurse gave me a tour of the floor. When Menininho needed a change of linens, I went and got them myself. I made sure to familiarize myself with the general area so I could do things like grab breakfast on my own. Also, keep track of your child’s waste, even if you’re not initially directed to, because more likely than not the doctor is going to want that information. That means saving the diapers and recording how often your out-of-diapers child uses the bathroom.
6) If possible, form a team. Taking care of a sick child in the hospital is exhausting. If you and your partner can trade off in the duty, great. If you’re flying solo, perhaps you can trade with another parent on the floor, or find a nurse willing to keep an ear out for your child while you grab a snack.
7) Know that you can do it and will get through this.

Anyone else have tips to share?

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8 Comments

  1. No advice, just hugs. It sounds like you guys are doing well and I wish I could reach out and make it better retroactively for you but I’m so glad to hear it’s getting better. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.

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  2. Those are great tips, Maya. I don’t have much experience with that at all and I might print out this list if/when I have to take a sick kid to the hospital! I hope he feels better soon!

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  3. Excellent tips. I especially second taking a moment (unless you’re in a truly life or death emergency) to pack up some things for yourself as well as the child. Whenever my daughter breaks a bone and we head to the ER, I feel guilty taking 10 minutes to use the bathroom; pack a book, my medications, a drink and a snack; and sometimes even take a quick shower or change my clothes into something comfortable that I can also sleep in if she ends up being admitted (like sweats). But I am always glad later that I took the time, because when I am comfortable, I can be more available to my daughter. It’s one of those times when a little “selfishness” ends up helping you to be more selfless later on.

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  4. All good things. I have had to take my son in when he was little then all three kiddos a lone. I bribe them (they are older) and pray they stay quiet.
    Your little man is such a trooper. I am glad he will be okay

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  5. Poor little guy! I’m glad you’re back home. You seem to handle the ER really well. We’ve only had one experience there and hopefully it stays that way. Good advice, though.

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  6. I have been to the ER far too many times to count. I think it’s a great idea to grab some items that you might need, of course there are some I should add to my list still. My brother, a paramedic, suggested having a bag specifically set aside for emergencies (b/c we have been there numerous times). His other suggestion, which has saved me a lot of time, is to have a list of all the pertinent information about my child (health card, medical issues, doctor’s name and numbers, even doctor’s cell phone numbers if available, medications and doses, etc. . . . all the things they tend to ask you for NUMEROUS TIMES in the ER). Another thing I’ve added on the back of the list is my child’s regular heart rate and breathing rate (in day and night). This is handed out to paramedics, ER doctors, admitting nurses, etc. There are several who have commented that it was useful and a great idea. I can’t take credit for it but think it’s a great idea for those who frequent hospitals.

    Also, when stressed . . . take a break . . . a walk . . . get a snack. Let a nurse monitor your child for a few minutes and take a breather, especially on those whiny/complaining days that your child may have.

    Establish a prayer team for those who will uplift your child in prayer when critical issues arise, is another one I appreciate.

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  7. Hey there, stopping by from SITS. What a great list. I don’t have children but I’m making a mental note of this. What a good idea to just take a shower if you can before you leave home.

    I hope you get out of there soon if you haven’t yet!

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  8. Stopping by from SITS. Thanks for the tips. Hopefully, we won’t be making any ER trips in the near future but I’ll definitely keep these in mind!

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